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Blinn honor society encourages students to earn their degree

Students seek to increase community college completion rate as part of national initiative

May 1, 2014

Phi Theta Kappa officers David Ramirez and Melanie Bilancich David Ramirez never thought he’d make it in college, much less a four-year university. 

But after earning his associate’s degree at Blinn College and seeing the pride on the faces of his wife and two children, Ramirez has turned his doubt into inspiration. This summer he’ll graduate with his second associate’s degree from Blinn and transfer into Texas A&M University’s technology management program.

“Blinn has raised my self-esteem,” Ramirez said. “I’ve already got one degree. Accomplishing that first stepping stone will push me to keep striving for excellence. I’m going into Texas A&M a lot more prepared than I would have been without Blinn.”

A Marine Corps veteran and Bryan native, Ramirez is the Community College Completion Corps (C4) coordinator for the Blinn College-Bryan campus Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honor society. PTK students must carry at least a 3.5 grade point average with at least 12 transferable hours.

Ramirez, PTK president Melanie Bilancich and the entire 120-member Blinn chapter are working to bring the Community College Completion Corps (C4), a national education initiative inspiring students to pledge to complete their associate’s degrees or certificates before leaving community college for transfer or to enter the job market, to Blinn College.

“A degree is not just a piece of paper,” Bilancich said. “It can lead to more advanced degrees, better job opportunities and a stable future. We want students to take ownership of their education and see what they are capable of.”

According to the AACC, 54 percent of college students work to support themselves or their families, 60 percent of students work at least 20 hours per week and 23 percent have dependent children. The AACC’s studies show that 65 percent of students who drop out of community college plan to return, but only 38 percent do.

At two new student conferences last month, hundreds of incoming students signed a “Commit to Complete” banner. Ramirez and Bilancich are working with College administrators to establish a one-on-one mentorship program for students and a scholarship program that would award students funds for completing their first-year college goals and a transfer scholarship after earning their associate’s degree.

“This is not a one-year project,” Bilancich said. “Our goal is to have the C4 principles embedded into the culture of Blinn and for us to remain involved in it even when we’re gone.”

To learn more about the C4 initiative, visit www.cccompletioncorps.org/

Blinn enrolled 18,413 students this Fall and has experienced 31.1 percent growth since 2006. Founded in 1883, the College’s tuition and fees average about one-third the cost of the same classes at most four-year public universities in the state. In addition to its campuses in Brenham, Bryan, Schulenburg and Sealy, the College teaches online courses, dual credit for high school and prepares students for quick employment through its career and technical certification programs.

Registration is now available for Blinn’s May minimester (May 12-28) as well as the Summer I, Summer II and Fall semesters. For enrollment information and to learn about financial aid opportunities, visit: www.blinn.edu.